Tag Archives: crafts

Make your own decorations: Christmas star

A lovely way to brighten up your home or Christmas tree, or to give as a gift to a friend, – we’ve been busy making these lovely Christmas decorations from a few twigs and some string, here’s how we did it:

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Step 1: Make the most of a countryside walk gathering up dry twigs and sticks from your garden, nearby park or winter stroll in the park.

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Step 2: When you’ve got a collection of twigs, you will need the following to your Christmas star:

  • twigs
  • strong scissors or secateurs
  • garden or brown string, or pink ribbon

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Step 3: Cut the twigs into 6 equal lengths (about 6-10cm long will make it easier to tie the ends together).

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Step 4: Take 2 twigs and cross two ends into a triangle shape. Place the string under the cross and tie a knot.

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Step 5: Take a third twig and cross it to make a triangle with 3 equal sides. Repeat with the remaining three twigs.

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Step 6: Place one triangle over the other to make a star shape.

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Step 7: Take a piece of string and tie the two stars together at the join (see picture above). Repeat at the join opposite.

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Step 8: Take a piece of string or festive ribbon and make into a tag to hang from your Christmas tree.

Crafty Halloween idea: Spooktacular Salad!

Crafty Halloween idea: Spooktacular Salad!

Treat hungry trick or treaters to something to tuck into with our creepy skeleton salad bits & dip!

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This spooktacular salad is simple to make and is a great healthy treat for hungry trick-or-treaters.  Kids can get hands-on  arranging the different bones to create their own creepy creature!

Send us a photo of your creepy creations on Twitter or Facebook using #healthyhalloween.  We’d love to see what you come up with!

Ingredients:

  • Pepper
  • Courgette
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots (we used purple carrots for an extra spooky effect!)
  • Hummus
  • Olives
  • Large plate or chopping board
  • Small bowl

Step 1: Cut up the different components ready to arrange on a plate or chopping board.

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Step 2: Start arranging your skeleton.  Find a bowl for the head, it’ll be filled with dip later, but it’s great to get an idea of scale for the skeleton’s bones.

Courgettes cut into disks make a great spine, and red peppers are perfect for ribs.

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Step 3: Add arms and legs using celery and carrots.  Cauliflower and broccoli are a great way of creating hands and feet.

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Step 4:  Fill your bowl with dip and position as the skeleton’s head.

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Step 5:  Use cabbage or lettuce leaves for the hair and sliced olives for the skeleton’s eyes.  An off-cut from the pepper is perfect as a smiley mouth.

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Step 6:  Chop up any spare veg and put in a side bowl for everyone to get stuck in!

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Tuck into your tasty skeleton! Have a great Halloween and don’t forget to send us a photo!

 

 

 

 

The alternative Easter egg – how to decorate them naturally with vegetables!

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Easter does not have to be all about the chocolate; vegetables have plenty of fun to offer too! A great way to get all the family involved, roll up your sleeves and work together to use any leftover veg to make pretty, naturally dyed Easter eggs.

You can colour ordinary hen’s eggs with vegetable dyes at home in your kitchen, as different veg produces different colours. They create more subtle tones than chemical colourants, but as they are harmless dyes, it means that you have the added fun of eating colourful boiled eggs afterwards on a picnic lunch. Especially popular with kids!

Here’s what you’ll need for each colour you want to create:

  • 1-2 teaspoons of white vinegar – this helps fix the dye to the egg shell.
  • Your chosen veg – see below for the colours each creates.
  • Eggs – try to use ones with the palest shells you can find, as they will show the colour more.

Natural dye sources:

  • Blue/lilac – red cabbage (boil the chopped cabbage in water for 30 mins first)
  • Pink – beetroot (boil the chopped beetroot in water for 30 mins first)
  • Green – spinach
  • Deep orange/terracotta – brown onion skins

There are many more colours you can create from natural materials; look online for more ideas. Just make sure that whatever you use is safe to eat first if you are planning to eat them, as egg shells are porous and will absorb the colourant.

Method:

  1. Gently wash your eggs, then place in a single layer in a saucepan with enough water to cover. Add a teaspoon or so of white vinegar along with your natural dye; the more dye material you use, the more intense the colour. Some veg will need boiling first (see dye list), in which case you add the eggs and the vinegar at the end of the boiling time. Simmer for 15-20 minutes.
  2. Remove the eggs and put to one side to cool and dry; an egg box works well as a drying rack. If you want a darker colour, remove the eggs from the liquid, strain the dye through a coffee filter and cover the eggs with the natural dye once more. You can leave them overnight if you like, but either way make sure they go into the fridge if you are planning on eating them (and consume within 24 hours of boiling).
  3. Repeat the same process for any additional colours you want. You can give the eggs more of a glossy finish by rubbing them with vegetable oil, and using wax or crayons to draw shapes or patterns before dyeing them can make your eggs even prettier. You can also layer dyes to create different colours – much of the fun is in experimenting and seeing how the eggs turn out.

Note (optional): Bear in mind that what you use to dye the shell can sometimes flavour the egg itself a little, so you may prefer to ‘blow’ the eggs first to empty the raw egg out. This also means that you can keep your coloured eggs.

To do this: First wash the egg gently but thoroughly in warm water. Next, slowly make a small hole with a clean sewing needle at the pointed end of the shell, taking care not to crack the egg. Make a second hole at the opposite end, about double the size of the first. Use a knitting needle or similar to pierce the yolk of the egg via the larger hole, then, gently holding the egg between forefinger and thumb over a small bowl, blow through the smaller hole to get all the raw egg out and put aside for an omelette of spot of baking. Rinse the emptied shell thoroughly in cold water and use as above.

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Penny’s gardening blog: get crafty with vegetable tie-die

Dying using veg and fruit is easy, fun and will educate your kids about the different uses plants have.

You can try beetroot, onion skins, blackberries, redcurrants, plums, to name but a few plus all sorts of spices like turmeric and saffron and different tree barks and roots.  Follow this link for much more information on what to use and how to do it. http://pioneerthinking.com/crafts/natural-dyes.

I decided to have a go last weekend and took some photos to show you my results. It does take some preparation and don’t expect really strong colours. Have a read and start collecting your dye materials.

Equipment, you will need:

  •  saucepans
  •  colanders or sieves
  • rubber gloves
  •  salt
  • vinegar
  • 100 percent cotton material
  • your chosen dye materials  (I managed to procure some red and yellow onion skins, some beetroot, red cabbage leaves, and a mixture of blackcurrants, plums and cherries).

I made a dye solution by boiling the dye materials, using twice as much water as dye material, for about an hour. I stained each one and set aside.

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I prepared some cloth by boiling in a fixative solution:

  • Use half a cup of salt to eight cups of water for berries.
  • Use four cups of water to one cup of vinegar for plant material.

Make enough solution to cover your cloth. And simmer for an hour, then rinse.

Place the dye solution in the pan with the wet cloth and simmer gently, stirring here and there until the cloth has reached a good colour. Rinse and dry out of direct sunlight.

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I borrowed my friends kids and had a go at tie dying some old shirts they had, using the dyes we had made.  Our results seemed initially good, the colour faded quite quickly but it was fun anyway. The colours will fade in sunlight, and with washing, which should be done separately from other clothes.

This method of tie dying using marbles or stones is quite effective.

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Place a marble or coin onto the material, pinch it and twist the material around it. Secure it in place with an elastic band. Be sure to secure the band very tightly for good results.

Livy using marbles and rubber bands:Image

Luke using a stick to spiral the t shirt:

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Tie up as tightly as possible using rubber bands and string.   We added several colours but of course you can’t boil these in, so using one colour is probably a better idea when using natural dyes.

 

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My Jackson Pollock design!

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Our results!

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How to make citrus candles

Throughout December, we’re posting tips, ideas, downloads and recipes on our Facebook page (our version of an advent calendar). Today we show you how to make citrus candles. These are fun to make, look great and will fill your room with the smell of fruit.

you will need:

candle wax (you’ll need about 1½ times the volume of your mould)
wick (you can make your own by dipping some string in melted wax)
candle mould (you could use a plastic beaker or a margarine tub)
dried slices of oranges and lemons
cinnamon stick, cloves and/or star anise
a large pan
a heatproof bowl
blu-tack
a pencil
essential oil

method:

Make a hole in the bottom of your mould with the tip of a sharp pencil or some scissors. Thread the wick through the hole, with a bit poking out of the bottom of the mould. Press some Blu-tack around the wick on the outside of the mould – this will stop any wax escaping later.

Gently pull the other end of the wick until it’s taut in the middle of the mould. Balance a pencil on the top edges of the mould and wrap the long end of the wick around the pencil.

Put the wax and a few drops of essential oil in a heatproof bowl over a pan of water. Heat the water until it simmers and gradually melts the wax. While the wax is melting, arrange the slices of fruit, cinnamon sticks, cloves and star anise in the mould.

Pour the melted wax into the mould. Tap the outside of the mould to make any air bubbles rise and disappear to one side.

When the wax has cooled down, remove the Blu-tack from the wick, tap the bottom of the mould and pull gently on the other end of the wick attached to the pencil. If the candle doesn’t come out easily place the mould under a running hot tap for a few moments and try again.

How to make pomanders

pomanders These look great on the Christmas tree and are easy to make.

You will need:
cloves
a cocktail stick
a citrus fruit – order from Riverford
ribbon

Use the cocktail stick to make holes all over the fruit and push a clove into each hole. Then, put the fruit in an airing cupboard and leave it for two weeks to dry and go hard or to speed it up, put it in the bottom of a cooling oven. As the fruit dries, it will start to feel lighter and smell stronger.

Once it’s dried out, wrap a ribbon round it and tie the ends into a bow.

If you want your pomander to smell even more Christmassy, dust some spices over it. Cinnamon and ginger work well.